If you’re a backpacker or a student, or you just travel like one, you likely have some budget minded travel preferences. You probably value experiences over amenities. It’s an easy bet that you would rather leave a place with a camera roll full of pictures than a backpack full of souvenirs. In fact, your preferences may skew slightly more towards the travel on a dime philosophy than most. However, that doesn’t mean that comfort isn’t a priority either. Cheap student travel is all about ways to balance the two. Check out these ten rules that can help you find the perfect balance.
1. Seek Out Hostels
First, if you’ve never considered staying in a hostel instead of a hotel or motel, that’s a money saving option already. To save even more money, make use of the hostel kitchen. You’ll save money cooking food you purchase yourself over eating out. Just remember that you’ll be sharing the kitchen with others.
Another bonus here is the communal dining experience. If you’ve been traveling solo, breaking bread with other travellers can be almost therapeutic.
2. Protect Your Money
No money saving tips are going to help if you fall victim to a pickpocket or scam artist. Use a money belt, or hidden pouch to keep your cash out of reach. Then, be savvy. Research the going rates for taxi fares, currency exchange rates, etc. There are always some people who are willing to overcharge naive tourists.
One thing that you can do is pay attention to travel advisories. These can help you to identify places where you will need to be very careful, and places you should avoid altogether.
3. Identify Where You Can Splurge
Cheap travel is only worthwhile if you have a way to reward yourself for the money you save. Pick a few areas where you are willing to splurge a bit. That could be a night in a posh hotel, dinner at a destination restaurant, or an exciting experience such as skydiving or scuba diving. It’s much easier to avoid pricey temptations if you have some sort of reward ahead of you.
4. Create a Detailed Itinerary
The more detailed your plans are, the better you will be able to plan your spending. It can also help you to identify when and where you could run into unexpected costs. There are several travel apps that can help you with this. On the other hand, while having a plan is great, be flexible enough that you can take care of unexpected bargains should they come up.
5. Know Where You Will Resupply
Research and conduct some price comparisons in the places where you plan to resupply. You might find that using local markets, grocery stores and big box stores is actually cheaper than stocking up at places that cater to backpackers. You can also save money quite frequently if you’re willing to travel a bit out of your way.
6. Travel in The Off Season
Hostel rates, transportation costs, even attractions are often less expensive in the off season. Even better, the accommodations are much less crowded, and you often get more attentive service. Just be sure that you don’t arrive somewhere so out of season that things are closed.
7. Make Use of Free Resources
If you can get it for free, why pay for it? Your driver’s license and library card from your local library is often enough to rent some eBooks or movies. Public parks have BBQ grills and picnic areas. This can be a great option when compared to eating fast food or restaurant chains.
Before you arrive at your next destination, research the local chamber of commerce or bureau of tourism. They may have free or discounted passes, and information on local resources available to you. If you are a student check out discount programs or other, local student travel services.
Almost every city in the world you’ll find free wifi somewhere, although if it’s free it might not be fastest wifi!
8. Go to Backpacker / Student Nights
Following on from above, always check what’s going on at the hostel you’re staying at, you may get free tea and coffee, free breakfast or dinner or free wifi, and every little saving helps! If the hostel has a bar there are often backpacker nights where you could win a fantastic prize such as a Whitsundays sailing trip, skydive or kayaking experience!
9. Enjoy Local Cuisine
Of course, sometimes letting other people do the cooking is more than worth it. However, if you are going to take that route, do it the smart way. Eat what the locals eat and where the locals eat.
Skip the 5 star places and chains. Instead, explore farmers markets and eat from the food stands there. Look for food carts and restaurants with pick up windows and long lines. This tells you that the food is going to be tasty, reasonably priced, and safe to eat.
10. Become a Member
Look for and join any rewards clubs or loyalty schemes that relates to your travel. If you’re going to fly, subscribe to the airline’s travel club. The same thing goes with your hostel and other accommodations. Planning a day trip to a tourist attraction? They most likely have a membership club of some sort. Sign up for it. Many will reward you with discounts or freebies just for signing up. You may also qualify for upgrades and exclusive coupons for members only. Some may have special student travel discounts.
The trick to traveling comfortably on a budget is to think like a student. Identify some experiences that are important to you as well as areas where comfort is going to be a priority over saving a few dollars. Then, identify opportunities for savings. By following the ten rules above, you should be able to accomplish your goals for a budget minded student travel experience.
Author: Natalie Andersen is the Chief Content Officer at the online writing service, Get Good Grade. She is an ace researcher and long time professional writer. She has written this book, “Conquer Essay Phobia: Perfect Formula For a Good Grade”. Ms. Andersen says, “I was able to gain the life I wanted the moment I decided that my own actions would determine my situation, not my circumstances. I am happy because I know what I am good at, and I enjoy using those talents for making things that are useful for others.”